Hampton Court Palace had always been on our list of places to visit but we hadn’t realised that the flower show was going to be staged there in the week that we would arrive. Hampton Court flower show is on a similar scale to the Chelsea flower show and attracts thousands of visitors on a daily basis for the week that it is staged. We had pretty much written off any prospect of mooring near the palace by the time we had left Molesey lock after listening to the wise words of the lock keeper but as we passed under the bridge that links East Molesey with the northern bank of the Thames we could see that there might possibly be space on the palace moorings. Sure enough, there was more than enough space for us so we quickly got alongside and tied up. Although run by Historic Royal Palaces, the arrangements are the same as most EA moorings – first day free and then two days at £5 per day (£10 for boats of 60 feet or more). We quickly decided to stay the full three days and figured that £20 wasn’t out of line with what we had been paying in other places. The warden greeted us as we moored and said that he would collect the fee the following day, he didn’t return in all of the time that we were there so our three days were free, gratis and for nothing.
Our first day saw us exploring East Molesey, a lovely little town with many small shops lining two or three main thoroughfares. Most businesses seemed to have displays outside them and we soon discovered that there was a local competition during the flower show for the best “garden”.
On day two we visited Hampton Court Palace and it was excellent! We were advised on entry that there would be a re-enactment taking place and that it would begin in just a few minutes time. This show involved a group of actors telling the story of Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn in the period of time when Henry was desperate for Ann to bear him a son and while he was in the process of being excommunicated by the catholic church. We are very familiar with this period in English history but even for us it was very informative as well as being entertaining.
After we had followed the acting troupe around the palace and their show was over, we explored the buildings and grounds. Despite the fact that the flower show was in full swing, the grounds are so large that visitors to the palace are not disadvantaged by its presence. In addition to visiting all of the formal gardens, no trip to Hampton Court would be complete without going into the maze so of course we did that too. The pictures that follow give some idea of what there is to see at Hampton Court but in all honesty it would be impossible to try and do the place justice with a few snaps.